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Ockhamite Diary: Cash De-throned, Turning the Clock Back, and Shoe Polish Has Lost Its Shine

Published on: 6 Jan, 2023
Updated on: 19 Jan, 2023

A sidelong glance at the world from Tony Edwards…

Goodbye to the days when cash was king

I spent real money – hard cash – in the shops this week. Bad idea.

Should have stuck with the credit cards.

I handed over a newish £20 note for a small purchase at the local chemist and watched in dismay as the sales assistant slowly pushed a pile of loose change across the counter towards me like casino chips from a croupier to a winning punter.

Change from a £20 note which weighs heavily on the pocket.

It turned out to be the entire contents of his cash till, give or take a 20p coin. I know because he showed me the empty drawer after I protested that my trouser pockets wouldn’t stand the weight of so much metal money.

He apologised but merely shrugged when I asked him why he had no fivers, tenners, £1 or £2 coins – or, more importantly, what I was expected to do with the ballast which now bulged in my trouser pockets.

Coin of the realm, crisp bank notes and, of course, old fashioned cheques it seems are about as welcome as wampum in the shops in 2023. Strictly taboo.

And recent reports even suggest we are on track to become a largely cashless society by 2030 – just eight years away. This means the new King Charles 111 banknotes, due to be in circulation from next year, are destined for a very short life.

How long will the new King Charles III currency reign?

But we were also told this week that wallets and purses are on the way out too. A Mastercard survey claims that more than half of us think they’ll be irrelevant within the next five years as we reject both cash and cards and turn, instead, to contactless cards which can be stored on mobile phones.

So, as our redundant cash tills begin to fall silent, that wonderfully expressive word “Ker-ching” will almost certainly slip from our vocabulary to become little more than a distant echo of long-gone days, when cash was king and credit cards hadn’t yet been invented.

Shops that made you stand and stare

The front half of a Dodge car was the main feature of the Granny Takes a Trip shopfront.

While the world’s media focussed on the passing of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood last week, my mind travelled back to the innovative and ever-changing frontage at her 430 Kings Road, Chelsea shop during the beginnings of her career in the 1970s.

Clearly inspired by previous Kings Road trailblazers of the 1960s, like Tommy Roberts and his Mr Freedom shop, which featured a giant, blue gorilla in the window, and Granny Takes a Trip with its traffic-stopping 1948 Dodge car protruding through the shop window out into the street.

A blue gorilla was the focus of the window display at Mr Freedom.

Vivienne opened up in 1971 with Let it Rock, soon changed it to Too Fast to Live – Too Young to Die, followed by her infamous Sex shop front, followed by a new facade for Seditionaries.

The hands of the clock spin backwards at the World’s End shop in Kings Road.

Finally, the Kings Road shop was renamed World’s End in 1979. It has been called World’s End for nearly fifty years now and still features a large clock face above the window with the hands perpetually racing backwards in time – like a nostalgic countdown to the end of a very special era in fashion.

Eros in need of an arrow

The leaning tower of Pisa isn’t – at least not as much as it used to.

A professor from the University of Pisa says it has straightened itself by 4 cms since an eleven year stabilisation programme reduced the tilt by 38 cms in 2001.

But tourist interest in the famous land mark hasn’t diminished one iota. In fact reports say it’s probably increased so perhaps we should follow Italy’s monumental example and have a bash at lowering Nelson’s
column in Trafalgar Square.

The trouble with the great man being nearly 170 feet off the ground is that tourists can’t really see him up there so it might be better all round if we brought him down to earth a bit – eye to eye, so to speak.

Eros has been given a new bow – but still no sign of an arrow.

And we definitely need to update the statue of Eros who stands on top of the memorial fountain to Lord Shaftesbury in Piccadilly Circus.

Erected in 1892, he’s recently been given a new bow but has never had an arrow. In fact, Eros isn’t even meant to be Eros at all but his brother Anteros who, according to the experts, was created as a playmate for
Eros.

A royal bitter for Harry

Harry’s bitter, on tap at the Duke of Sussex in Chiswick.

If you happen to drop in for a quick pint at the Duke of Sussex pub in Chiswick you’ll be greeted by a picture of Prince Harry on a pump which serves a very distinctive beer.

Described as a royally good tipple, Harry’s Bitter is a sarcastic swipe at the prince’s on-going Netflix rant about the royal family and locals have labelled the 3.9% alcohol brew “as weak as its namesake”.

There are also rumours that Meghan may be right royally honoured with a topical cocktail – an extra strength Whiskey Sour.

But plans to use Meghan’s name in a famous ‘hangover cure’ involving vodka, tomato juice, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce, are still to be confirmed.

Two ex pats and the shine on your shoes

I’ve never bothered about keeping up with the Joneses. I find it generally less costly to drag them down to my level – but not where my shoes are concerned.

Shoes are important – they spotlight a sense of style.

My uncle Larry – an ex-military man – was a life-long advocate of shiny shoes and taught me how to “spit and polish” my shoes to a high gloss to “outshine the best of them” when I was a boy. But he’d have been
staggered to hear that Britain has now stopped buffing-up its boots.

Shiny shoe, but not in the UK.

The makers of Kiwi shoe polish announced this week that they no longer sell their shoe shine products in the UK after more than 100 years in business, blaming a trend towards wearing trainers and casual shoes,
and working from home, for a major fall in demand

Launched in 1909 in Melbourne, Australia, by ex-pats William Ramsey and Hamilton McKellan, the Kiwi name was a nod to Ramsey’s wife who was born in New Zealand, home of the flightless bird. And at its peak
the business operated 24 factories, world-wide.

It is, perhaps, telling that while Kiwi’s shiny shoe products are still creating a mirror gloss for shoes in more than 180 countries around the world, they are no longer available in the UK. Uncle Larry will be
spinning in his grave.

Civil servants looking for the new Department of Lost Things.

Whitehall losers

Government figures released this week reveal that 50 laptops and ‘phones were lost every week by Whitehall departments during the past year – substantially up on the previous year. Careless, or what?

And more than 8,000 laptops and ‘phones have been mislaid, lost, or stolen in the past five years, with the Ministry of Defence leading the ‘losing’ trend, closely followed by the Ministry of Justice.

Meanwhile, new government figures announced this week indicate that the MoD spent £16.6 million on hire cars for staff in the year to November – up from just under £13 million the previous year and a total
loss to the treasury.

Yet only last year it was revealed that a senior MoD official managed to lose a pile of papers, including top secret files, at a bus stop in Kent.

What was he doing waiting for a bus in Kent with all those chauffeur-driven limos waiting outside the MoD’s offices?

Might be a good time for HMG to set up a new Department of Lost Things [DOLT] to monitor the avalanche of disappearing Whitehall assets. Let’s face it, rather more senior Whitehall staff seem to have lost
the plot than was originally thought and, if the losing trend continues, the Tories will be on course to lose the next election too.

Post Script…

I received half a dozen Christmas cards during the week after Christmas – delayed by the postal strike – and decided to run a personal check on new year postal deliveries.

So I sent myself a letter last Friday – December 30th. Strictly speaking it wasn’t a letter, just an envelope containing some blank writing paper.

But it had a first-class stamp and so looked the part.

My letter hasn’t turned up yet but I’ll keep you er, posted…

Thought for the day

When I was a small boy I decided I was going to be somebody when I grew up. Now I realise I should have been more specific.

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test One Response to Ockhamite Diary: Cash De-throned, Turning the Clock Back, and Shoe Polish Has Lost Its Shine

  1. Carol Maidlow Reply

    January 8, 2023 at 12:53 am

    Loved the “DOLT” reference to the lost things.

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